Living Like A Local In Tokyo

07.October 2012

Japan

“Can’t you just imagine living here?”

On this trip, more than any other, this thought kept creeping into our minds and conversations. Not only because we are looking for a new home but also because we used apartments for this trip and so really could feel as though we had moved in.

We were especially connected to our Tokyo apartment. We stayed in it for three days when we first arrived and then returned for the last 6 days of our trip. As we had already settled into the space and explored the neighbourhood a bit it really felt like we were returning ‘home’.

Want to see what it looked like? Check out this virtual tour I hosted:

It’s more than a cute, little kitchen and a comfy bed though, it’s our place in a real neighbourhood.

Downstairs, the narrow streets buzz with activity coinciding with the time of day; early morning sees bleary-eyed salary men making their way to the nearby train station before the uniformed school boys and girls giggle and gossip along the route to school and then there is the mid-day pilgrimage to the markets and shops by moms and wives as they plan and prepare dinner for their families.

We spend our days out exploring the sights of the city but return late every afternoon to relax and enjoy a cocktail at home. We have not eaten dinner outside of the four square blocks surrounding us. There is no need to; every evening we stroll down a different street and discover ever more cute, interesting, little places calling our name. Izakayas, yakitori stands, ramen shops, sushi bars, and tempura joints abound – we could try a different one every night for a month and still not get to them all. I love the abundance.

Kaiten Sushi, TokyoWe start to recognize people…and be recognized. The clerk at the grocery store knows that we remember to bring our own bags. The young man making custard fish sees me coming and wraps my daily addiction up for me. The call of “Irasshai” from the sushi chefs feels warmer as we walk in for the third time this week.

We are starting to fit in with the ebb and flow of what happens in real life in this real life Tokyo neighbourhood. This is what I’m looking for; this sense of home and yet not quite knowing how it all works. I love to travel, but I also love routine. It is during this trip, during this time spent in apartments so far from home and yet feeling so much like home, that cements the whole wanna-be expat idea.

In fact, during our last few days here in Tokyo we set about re-imagining ‘our’ apartment as a more permanent home; we could put a linen closet in the toilet room, a few posters on the wall, a tiny couch and table in with the bed in the other room, perhaps a small rolling kitchen island would increase the kitchen counter space. We had it all figured out.

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7 Responses to “Living Like A Local In Tokyo”

  1. Nate Says:

    This was a really great post because it is a fresh look into what I love about life in Japan – a vibrant community – you don’t even have to look for. Like you said, there is usually all you need within 4 blocks of where you are that you don’t necessarily need to go out of it. I think it just makes life so much simpler. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ryan Says:

    Great post once again. I love the thought of simple / minimalist living. It makes me think of all the physical clutter i could do without.

  3. Audrey Says:

    I love traveling in this way. It’s more relaxing to feel settled somewhere and have a bit of a routine. Some of our best travel experiences have been in the places where we rented an apartment. It’s nice to come back at the end of the day and have your own personal space and a feeling of home. Yet you know that each time you go out there is a whole world of new and exciting things to explore outside your door.
    Audrey recently posted..The Butchart Gardens, A Fairyland Of Flowers And A Photographer’s Dream

  4. Hogga Says:

    I wish I was back in Tokyo… just such a crazy awesome place.
    Hogga recently posted..Canadian Nature Through Instagram

  5. Leigh Says:

    You’ve made me rethink a visit to Japan. It sounds like its been a fabulous trip and now I wonder how long we’ll continue to have you in Calgary.
    Leigh recently posted..A Surprisingly Delightful Visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park

  6. Maribeth Says:

    Getting “localized” is one of the best and sometimes hard things about travel. It’s exciting to learn and adjust to their culture but it’s also difficult to bid goodbye when you’re about to leave.
    Maribeth recently posted..Sagada Itinerary (in the making)

  7. julian travel blogger Says:

    Tokyo is definitely a place I could live. If you have managed to get ‘localised’ that’s half the battle won!